As we wrap up winter league updates for the year, we take one last look in on the few Rockies still in action around the globe, and hand out a few awards to some of the top performers. From here, it's just a few short weeks until spring training, and all the prospect talk can begin again in earnest.
Down Under, Correlle Prime is doing his part to help with Perth's push to close a two game gap and move into the third and final playoff spot in the Australian Winter League. He went 5-for-17 with one home run, one RBI and three strikeouts over the past week's play. On the season, he is hitting .271/.318/.424 with four home runs and 17 RBI in 47 games for the Heat, and leads the team in batting average. He has rebounded nicely from a rough summer with the Modesto Nuts, where he slashed only .239/.275/.375 in the High-A California League.
As for his teammate in Perth Michael Benjamin, the infielder was added to the Reserve List this weekend after playing two games against Canberra in which he was 4-for-8 with one RBI and one strikeout. Benjamin will return to the States to prepare for spring training as Perth continues their push for the playoffs without him. His final Australian batting line is .229/.293/.380 with five home runs and 18 RBI — certainly not the most impressive line among Rockies hitters playing winter ball, but he worked hard to build it after a slow start.
Robbie Perkins, on the other hand, was never able to find his bat this season playing for Canberra. This week, he was 1-for-12 with one run batted in and six strikeouts in three games. He remains on the active roster for his hometown Cavalry, and is hitting just .179/.285/.195 with 11 RBI, 17 walks and 47 strikeouts in 42 games so far this winter.
Alex Balog had already been added to the Reserve List at last week's winter ball update, and as a result did not play at all in the last seven days. He finished with a stellar 5-2 record in 46⅔ innings over eight starts. He recorded a 1.35 ERA, allowing 12 runs (7 earned) while striking out 45 and walking just 13, and opponents logged only a .204 batting average against him. For more on Balog, here's why he was named our 23rd best preseason prospect heading into 2016.
In the Dominican, the Liga Beisbol playoffs are underway, and Cristhian Adams is doing his part to help Toros make a run at the championship after a rough regular season ended with him hitting .208/.256/.300 with 11 RBI in 32 games. Since the playoffs started, Adames has been hot. In 12 games so far, he is 11-for-36 with 2 runs batted in and six runs scored. Hitting .306/.405/.389, his average is 98 points higher than it was in the regular season and it certainly seems that Adames got hot at the perfect time.
In his three playoff starts, Bryan Evans is 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA; he has struck out ten and walked just three in 13 innings so far. Rudy Owens has not fared quite as well. He is 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA in two starts (nine innings) and has struck out nine while walking three.
Playoffs in Mexico and Venezuela are under way as well. However, none of the Rockies in those respective leagues are playing much of a role to this point.
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Now, time for our end of season Winter Ball Awards!
In order to be eligible for an award, a fielder had to appear in more than 10 games, and a pitcher had to pitch more than five innings. (I know, I know, but it's winter ball... the sample sizes are just different, OK?)
Most Valuable Player: Raimel Tapia, Salt River Rafters
Tapia hit .330/.348./.440 representing the Rockies in the Arizona Fall League. Tapia was about a year younger than the league average, and faced competition that included MLB pitcher James Paxton. Tapia, like many of our award winners, should begin his 2016 season with Double-A Hartford.
Pitcher of the Year: Alex Balog, Sydney Blue Sox
In eight starts, Balog surrendered just seven earned runs on his way to 45 strikeouts in 46⅔ innings. Opposing batters hit just .204 against him, and he finished with a 1.35 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. As for 2016, look for Balog to be at the Double-A level with the Yard Goats, too, in what should be a very important year for his development as a starting pitcher.
Most Improved Player: Correlle Prime, Perth Heat
After a rough summer where Prime only hit .239/.275/.375 in 132 games in Modesto, he rebounded nicely with a very strong performance in Perth. In 47 games for the Heat, Prime is hitting .271/.318/.424, and while his OBP has dropped some, seeing his average come back up is an encouraging sign. We will have to see if his winter performance was strong enough to change any minds in the organization, but for now, Prime should repeat at Modesto this year, at least to begin the season.
Most Promising Young Player (A+ or lower): Antonio Senzatela, Navegantes de Magellan
Senzatela was 6.9 years younger than his average competition this winter in Venezuela, but that didn't stop him from recording a 1-0 record, a 2.82 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP in 22⅓ innings pitched. It's a fairly small sample size, but considering the competition and his performance, the numbers are impressive. Senzatela should start the year in Hartford as another member of a daunting rotation for the brand new Yard Goats.
Reliever of the Year — and — Closest to Coors: Carlos Estevez, Salt River Rafters
As I have written in this space before, I'm incredibly high on Estevez. He was stellar in 11 innings for Salt River this fall, finishing with a slightly misleading (high) 3.94 ERA. He gave up five earned runs on five hits (one HR), struck out 14 while walking seven, opponents had a .134 average against him, and he recorded a WHIP of 1.06, the best for Rockies pitchers this winter. Estevez should begin the year with Triple-A Albuquerque.
Estevez was the only prospect I featured who had already played at a level higher than Single-A without making his Major League debut, and as a result was an easy choice for the Closest to Coors award. Cristhian Adames was considered, but ultimately I decided it was cheating to give this to someone who had already debuted, even though Adames will likely be seen having an impact on 20th and Blake sooner than Estevez. As for the Venezuelan reliever, it's probably not out of the question to expect him in Colorado later this summer if he has a strong start to 2016 in Albuquerque.
Winter Gold Glove Award: Cristhian Adames
To be honest, this isn't our award — according to reports, Adames won his second consecutive Dominican Winter League Gold Glove this week! Congratulations, Cristhian! His dominance did not go unnoticed by Estevez, either.
With the end of winter leagues upon us, our attention begins to shift wholeheartedly to spring training. Thanks to everyone who followed along as we took a look at the offseason action. Be sure to look for the names featured here in the PuRPs list as it comes out over the next month, and keep an eye out for them down at Salt River Fields!